The poppy and the work of the Legion are often associated with the First and Second World Wars and elderly veterans, but the charity is calling on the public to consider all generations of the Armed Forces community when they wear their poppy.
The appeal was launched this morning at Seaham, with the help of Legion beneficiary Gareth Golightly who replicated the First World War sculpture, Tommy.
Gareth, who lives in Longbenton with his wife Denise and their three children, said: “During the Poppy Appeal this year we’re asking people to widen their lens when they reflect on remembrance. The Legion is here for all generations of the Armed Forces community, and it’s important to remember there’s a new generation that needs your support.
“When you pin your poppy on, or pause to remember, reconsider who you think of when you picture a veteran. Individuals and families from across the Armed Forces community need the Legion’s support, as well as our older veterans.
“Every donation received will make a real difference to the lives of Service men and women, veterans and their loved ones.”
The fund-raising target in the North East is £1.37million which will go towards the Legion’s national target of £43million to continue its vital work delivering practical, through life care and support to the Armed Forces community.
In the last year, the generosity of the British public helped the Legion answer more than 780,000 requests for help. The Legion uses donations to offer support in many ways including providing crisis grants, researching the impact of blast injuries on the body, lobbying the Government on key issues, and advising on benefits and money problems.
Gareth, 34, was injured in 2002 in a car accident while on his way back to his barracks. This resulted in him having an above-knee amputation to his right leg, nerve damage to his left leg and a shattered pelvis.
He has gone on to take part in the Invictus Games and won a gold medal in wheelchair basketball. After the last Invictus Games, the family went on a Legion-funded Poppy Break to Byng House.
“The Poppy Break provided by the Legion was priceless to our family; it gave us much-needed precious time together,” he said.
The Royal British Legion’s director of fund-raising Claire Rowcliffe said: “The Poppy Appeal 2016 is encouraging the public to recognise the service and sacrifices made across all generations of the British Armed Forces.
“Service can come in many forms from being parted from family and loved ones for long periods of time, to physical and mental injury, and sadly making the ultimate sacrifice. The Legion’s role remains as contemporary and as vital as it has ever been supporting today’s generation of Service personnel, veterans, and their families whether living with an injury or illness, coping with bereavement or finding employment.
“We’re encouraging people to dig deep for this year’s Poppy Appeal to help us raise £43million. The Legion’s work is entirely dependent on the public’s generous support – so please wear your poppy with pride, knowing that you are helping the Armed Forces community to live on.”